Geary and Kansas by John H. Gihon, M.D.



Arrival in Kansas of Secretary Stanton and Governor Walker.--The policy of the new administration.--Disapprobation of the pro-slavery party.

    FREDERICK P. STANTON, having been appointed secretary of Kansas, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the elevation of Mr. Woodson to the office of receiver of the Delaware land district, proceeded in advance of Governor Walker to the territory, and arrived at Lecompton on the 15th of April, where he took charge of the executive office as acting-governor.

    He commenced at once to inaugurate the policy of the newly appointed governor, agreeably to his instructions previous to his departure from Washington. Mr. Stanton issued an address defining that policy, all the features of which will be found in the Inaugural of Governor Walker, which, not withstanding its great length, is considered of sufficient importance to receive a place in the appendix to this work. The first important official act of the secretary, was to make an apportionment of delegates to the convention to frame a state constitution agreeably to the bill adopted by the late Legislative Assembly. This was done from the notoriously unfair and partial returns of the census takers. These returns might, with propriety, have been repudiated by the acting-governor, as the provisions of the census law had not been observed. This fact is sufficient to condemn the constitution that may be framed by the convention to be elected from the census returns and the apportionment of delegates made by Mr. Stanton.

    Governor Walker reached Leavenworth City on the 25th of May, and was received by a large concourse of citizens. A few days afterwards, having visited Lawrence, he issued his Inaugural Address at Lecompton. This document was intended to conciliate both the prominent political parties, but it has failed to give satisfaction to either, and the Kansas difficulties are as far as ever from being amicably adjusted. The free-state people have no confidence in the assurance that the pro-slavery party will permit them to give, through the ballot-box, a fair expression of their wishes, or that the constitution to be framed by the convention to be chosen in June, will be submitted to the citizens of the territory for their ratification or rejection. This proposition had been made by Governor Geary to the legislature which passed the census act, and was indignantly rejected. Nor is the pro-slavery party willing to abandon the idea of forcing slavery upon Kansas, simply because the suggestion has been made that at some future day the institution may be established in the Indian Territory, and an equilibrium of the slave power, thus maintained. The scheme to make Kansas a slave state is too precious to be relinquished as easily as Governor Walker appears to have imagined. Hence his suggestion to refer the constitution to be formed back to the people, meets with the most decided condemnation. The Kansas pro-slavery leaders, who promised the governor that they would throw no obstacles in the way of his peaceful administration, have lost much of their enthusiastic admiration of his excellency, whilst the southern press have commenced to denounce his policy in terms that cannot be misunderstood. The Charleston Mercury concludes a lengthy article with the following significant paragraph:--

    "Now we hold that the submitting of the constitution soon to be framed by the people of Kansas in convention assembled, back again to the people individually, for ratification, is a work of supererogation--a matter to be done or not, entirely to the discretion of the convention, as a thing of contingent expediency only, and not by any means a thing of necessity. And we cannot but look upon this suggestion of Mr. Stanton, however coupled with declarations of southern feeling, and the determination expressed by Governor Walker, as partaking of the nature of official dictation, and being in fact, a violation of the promised neutrality--an insidious and high-minded breach of faith towards the south and southern men in Kansas. We, therefore, desire in the outset to stamp this game as it deserves, and to protest against all attempts to influence the action of the convention from without, whether coming from the territorial officers appointed by the president, or the free-soil schemers of New York and Boston. The real object and end is under the guise of fair words to the south to make a free state of Kansas."

    The South, published at Richmond, Va., is no less severe in its expressions of disapprobation, as may be seen from the following article:--

    "Upon the new plan, which Governor Walker promulgates for the settlement of the Kansas difficulty, we cannot venture an opinion before we scrutinize it in detail. There is one point, however, upon which we can give an instant and emphatic judgment; and that is, the proposition to submit the constitution of Kansas to a popular vote. In respect of general policy, such a step would inevitably involve very disastrous consequences. In the first place, it would inflame and prolong the controversy, and would ultimately throw Kansas into the arms of the abolitionists. But any discussion of the measure in regard of expediency is unnecessary and irrelevant, since the convention which is to frame a state constitution for Kansas is endowed with no authority to submit their work to the popular vote. The act by which the convention is assembled ascertains and limits its powers, and in that act there is not one word about submitting the constitution to the people. The convention can do nothing for which there is not an express authority in the law; and as there is neither an express nor implied authority in the law to submit the constitution of Kansas to the vote of the inhabitants of the territory, the step would be an illegal and invalid usurpation of power. The proposition is too plain to allow of controversy. Submit it to any lawyer in the land, from Chief Justice Taney or Reverdy Johnson to the poorest pettifogger in the most obscure country village, and the instant answer will be that the convention in Kansas has no right to submit the constitution to a popular vote. The journals of the north concede the point, and declaim against the law calling the convention on the ground that it makes no provision for a popular vote on the constitution. Why then does Governor Walker raise the question? It is especially surprising that he should assume an undeniably untenable position."

    There is no probability of a renewal of the civil war that disgraced the territory previous to the arrival there of Governor Geary. The recent immigration of free-state settlers has so swelled their numbers, that no attempt will again be made to drive them from the territory, coerce them with any unjust position, or in any way disturb them by armed forces from Missouri or elsewhere. It is well understood that an undertaking of this kind would inevitably result in a certain and calamitous defeat. The only ground for hope now left to the pro-slavery party, is in the action of the convention to meet in September next. Should the constitution framed by that body be rejected by Congress, as justice demands, in consequence of the illegality of the convention itself, or from any other cause, the Kansas difficulties will soon be settled, by the admission of that beautiful territory as a free state into the Union.


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